Private rented accommodation and shared ownership

Private rented accommodation

Many landlords advertise and manage their properties through letting agents. They usually charge one full month’s rent in advance and a deposit as part of the agreement to begin a tenancy. Agents may charge a fee for their services and may require you to agree to them carrying out a credit check which they will also charge for.

Fact Sheet 4 - Costs of privately renting

West Suffolk Lettings Partnership (WSLP) cannot assist with the fee that agents charge, as this is non-refundable if you fail credit referencing.

There are many useful websites that advertise properties including:

Fact Sheet 1 - Where can I find homes to rent

If you are entitled to housing benefit to assist the rent payments, you should make sure that the rent is affordable by checking the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates for the area and property size.

Fact Sheet 3 - Local Housing Allowance rates

The Bury St Edmunds rate covers most of West Suffolk apart from the Newmarket and Haverhill areas that attracts the higher Cambridge rate. Anything that isn't covered by housing benefit will come out of your own income. More information about LHA and entitlement.

Shared ownership

If you want to purchase a home of your own, but can't afford to buy on the open market, shared ownership could be your way onto the property ladder.

Shared ownership is a part-buy, part-rent scheme that allows you to buy a share of your home and pay a reduced rent for the remaining part. Most housing associations offer you the chance to buy an initial share of a home worth between 10% and 75% of its market value.

You can take out a mortgage to buy your share or pay for it with savings. You’ll also need to pay a deposit, usually between 5% and 10% of the share you’re buying.

You can buy more shares in your home in the future. This is known as ‘staircasing’. If you buy more shares, you’ll pay less rent. The amount of rent you pay will be based on the landlord’s share.


You are no longer required to be registered and approved by the Help to Buy Agent to be eligible for shared ownership. You could buy a home through shared ownership in England if:

  • your household earns £80,000 a year or less when you’re buying outside of London, or £90,000 a year or less when you’re buying in London
  • you are a first-time buyer, you used to own a home but can’t afford to buy one now or are an existing shared owner looking to move.

With shared ownership you can buy a newly built home or an existing one through resale programmes from housing associations. You’ll need to take out a mortgage to pay for your share of the home’s purchase price, or fund this through your savings.

Find a home you want to buy

New build shared ownership properties are currently being developed in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill and are expected to be advertised throughout 2023. If you’re eligible, you can contact the housing association selling the shared ownership homes.

You can access further information on how to apply and check if you are eligible at GOV.UK - Find out how to apply for shared ownership.

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